Top tips for pet weight loss
We know ours pets are a little overweight. They have a bit of a wobble as they walk. They get puffed easily, and they are ALWAYS looking for food.
We covered why its important for them to loose weight in this blog post
But sometimes knowing what to actually do about it is the hard part.
First step for any overweight pet is to get a good thorough medical check up.
Get the blood tests done. See if they are suffering from any health conditions that are causing their weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, cushings disease, or diabetes.
If they do have some health conditions that are affecting their health, their weight management can be different, but for straight forward weight loss, here are a few tips.
Slow and steady
weight loss is not a race. Its about having a happier, healthier pet.
A weight loss program for your pet really needs to be a long term plan. I aim for a minimum 12 weeks for small weight loss goals. If your pet has a lot of weight to loose, I would consider it more likely to be a 6 month plan, and yes, sometimes even longer.
Reduce calorie intake
This is one of the most crucial aspects of weight loss. You need to reduce the calories coming in. Excess calories are going to be stored as fat tissue.
Some pets may need their calorie intake to be reduced to 50-60% of their daily needs before they will see any weight loss.
Always check just how many calories they actually need, and check the label on your pet food to make sure they are not actually overfeeding them by accident. Sometimes even if your scoop is a little bigger than what they actually recommend, your pet will gain weight.
Increase energy out
We all know how important exercise is for weight loss.
Start by increasing their exercise levels gradually.
If they have not done any activity for 12 months, don’t take them on a 5km run. start slowly and build up their fitness, and their strength.
Remember that overweight and obese pets can have trouble regulating body temperature, and can overheat quickly, and also some breeds may have breathing difficulties.
Fill them up
If your pet has gone from 100g a day of food, and you have dropped them down to 60g, they are going to feel a lot less physically satisfied.
High quality protein can help to increase the feeling of satiety. Sometimes when reducing calorie intake, adding in some additional protein can help with hunger.
Another option is to add some lightly steamed veges, like broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, that will fill their tummy, but not add much in the way of calories.
Adding fibre is often suggested for weight loss, and works for some pets, but it can cause some gut problems in others. Adding in a small sprinkle of psyllium husk, or grated raw carrot may help, but keep an eye on their tummy.
Breaking the ration into meal lots can help too. If you normally only feed one big meal, try feeding two smaller meals through the day.
Are they nutritionally hungry?
some pets can be hungry all the time, because they are nutritionally hungry. They might be getting all the calories they need (and more) but they are not getting enough of the essential nutrients their bodies need. If your food is homemade, make sure you formulate and balance it properly. If its a commercial food, make sure they are high quality.
Commercial foods often only have a 10% buffer for ‘adequacy’. If you drop their meal down by more than 10%, they are likely to be having deficient nutrient intake. This is OK for a short time, but if you are going to be underfeeding them consistently, like weight loss would require, your pet will run into nutritional deficiencies.
Keep them entertained
You know the first thing I do when I am bored? I go look in the fridge.
If your pet is bored, chances are they are going to appear hungry. Especially if you are well trained to get them a snack when they want one.
If they are starting to beg for food, take them for a walk, go play a game of fetch or fins some entertainment other than food based.
Food does not equal love
If you show your pet how much you care with snacks of love, this needs to stop.
Food is not love. You can show love in other ways.
Overfeeding a pet that has a weight problem is not showing love.
Remind yourself that by NOT giving them a treat, you are showing love.
By NOT giving them extra calories, you are showing love.
Give them some special pats, or a nice brushing. Give them a massage. take them for a walk.
These are all ways you can also show love.
If you love to feed them snacks, calculate them as part of their daily intake.
There are lots of little steps you can take to help your pet to loose weight. Just remember, if you can help them to loose weight, you can help them to live a longer, healthier life.
If you need help getting your portly pet to safely loose weight. I run a 12 week weight loss for pets program.
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.